Saturday, September 24, 2016

Outgoing Mail: Sacagawea

Attaching extra pages to our letters is allowing me to get a little more creative with the things I send our kids! This week I'm sending out a letter about Sacagawea.

I had been collecting some ideas for letter subjects for a while, including biographies of people I enjoyed learning about when I was younger. Since Brandon and I visited a Lewis and Clark exhibit at our local museum a few weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to put together a letter about Sacagawea! Basically, when I am writing one of these letters, I type up some information straight from children's non-fiction books in Microsoft Word, edit it for clarity, and copy/paste that into an online letter. If it's too long, I might take out some of the letter. In this case, I put my last paragraph in a word document, took a screenshot, pasted that onto another page, and added photos. Then I used that entire page as a single photo and uploaded it to my letter! I added a painting of Sacagawea, a picture of the dollar coin on which she was featured, and a little map about their route across the frontier (which I didn't plan on including, but a really good one came up in my Google search!) I even found a Sacagawea coloring page to send. I hope that the kids enjoy learning about her as much as I did when I was younger. I've placed the text of my letter here- the last paragraph was what I used as a screenshot. You are welcome to copy the information and send it to your own sponsor kids!

I want to tell you about an interesting person from my country's history. Sacagawea was a Native American girl famous for helping Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explore the western United States. Sacagawea was born around 1788. Her father was a Shoshone tribal chief.When she was about 14, she married a French fur trader named Toussaint Charbonneau, in the year 1804. He was hired to interpret for the explorers Lewis and Clark. They were going to study the land of the American West, which was unexplored by white people at that time. Lewis and Clark were on a mission from president Thomas Jefferson. They were to travel across the frontier, writing in journals, drawing the plants and animals that they saw, and sharing about the new things they encountered. They needed someone to translate their words for the times they encountered tribes of Native Americans. Sacagawea was chosen to travel with the company, too. Unfamiliar tribes would not be threatened by these travelers because they had a woman with them. Sacagawea gave birth to a baby boy just before beginning the journey with the explorers in the year 1805. She carried him on a special board on her back. The baby was named Jean-Baptiste, but everyone in the exploration group called him Pomp. In addition to helping the explorers speak with the tribes of Native Americans, Sacagawea acted as a guide for the group. She knew the trails of the frontier better than the explorers who had never been there before. She could also show them which wild plants were safe to eat. The explorers would not have survived the journey without the help of Sacagawea. The winters on the frontier were very harsh, with cold weather, strong winds, and tents as shelter. They also struggled when crossing through the mountain range called the Rocky Mountains. But Sacagawea helped them stay safe, and they survived! On the trip, only one man died of a disease that required surgery. The fact that almost everyone survived the journey was a miracle. Finally, after many long months, the company reached the Pacific Ocean. Sacagawea had never seen the ocean before, and that was her one request- that she was allowed to visit the sea. The explorers then traveled back across the country to their original homes. Their effort was so appreciated by President Jefferson, who was always eager to learn new things- and he learned a lot from the journals the explorers wrote!
Not much is known about Sacagawea after the trip was completed. It is believed that she had a daughter and then died when she was a young woman, not long after returning to her home. Sacagawea is one of several famous Native Americans that American school children learn about in their classes, and the United States government even honored her contributions to history by putting her image on a special coin. Not many women have been featured on American money, so this was a great honor. I have enjoyed learning about Sacagawea and reading about her story since I was a little girl! The explorers traveled through my state, Kentucky, at the beginning of their journey, and our local history museum has a special exhibit right now featuring information about the Lewis and Clark journey. They have recreated items like the Native tents, called tipis, and the long boats the explorers took up and down the rivers. Brandon and I had a lot of fun looking through the items at the museum. We really learned a lot!

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